Editor’s Note: Justin Field, UD Class of 2011, embarked on a TSD-sponsored bike-ride across America to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Delaware. This is an update on his progress as he travels through Virginia. To read his last entry, click here.
Day 25: Ash Grove, Mo. to Pittsburg, Ks.
We woke up early after spending the night indoors at a city park. We were joined by a group of older cyclists who woke up early, ensuring we were wide awake at 5:30 am.
About 50 miles before the border, the hills disappeared and we were surrounded by fields of wheat and corn. We didn’t have to worry about wrong turns, actually we didn’t have to worry about turns at all, since we stayed on the same, straight road for 60 miles into Pittsburg, Ks.
For the second day in a row, we were met by our new nemesis, the wind. It blew steadily in our faces, and kept our first day on flat ground to about 70 miles total. It was okay because we stopped in a sizable town of 20,000 people, a rarity on the Transamerica Trail.
Day 25, Part 2: Joplin, Mo.
After we had settled into our hotel in Pittsburg, Ks. we decided to make the short drive to Joplin, Missouri.
After a 40 minutes from Pittsburg, we entered town from the north, heading down its grand Main Street, with impressive old facades.
Without having yet seen the destruction, it was hard to sense what had occurred. As we headed down the thoroughfare, however, the vista opened up almost instantly into a vast nothingness of twisted metal, shredded trees, and demolished structures.
I sat in stunned silence as we drove through the destruction. It is hard to put in words the scale of destruction. Where a one mile by six mile wide portion of the city once thrived, now lays in ruins.
Trees that survived the winds have been bent and stripped of their branches.
The six story hospital suffered a direct blow and stands without windows and siding.
Entire neighborhoods and shopping centers were flattened and still lay in piles of rubble.
It was a hard scene to stomach and it was painful to think of the sense of terror the citizens of Joplin must have had the moment the massive tornado made its terrible move through the area. My heart goes out to those affected and those in town helping the in effort to rebuild.
There is reason for hope in Joplin. In our brief tour of the destruction we saw countless signs of hope and encouragement, vowing to rebuild. The Home Depot store that was destroyed has reestablished itself in a huge tent, helping provide supplies to remove debris and repair damage.
It’s clear that Joplin needs help. Please continue to keep Joplin in your thoughts. As I found out today, news reports don’t do the destruction justice. The hopeful people in this town can use any help they can get, and I will never forget the sights I saw in our short drive through Joplin.